Did Henry Ford make a car out of hemp?
Henry Ford had many faults as a human being, but he did have some highly redeeming qualities. Maybe his most endearing quality was his concern for the American farmer. Ford wanted to help, so he devised a plan to combine agriculture with the automobile industry. In 1941, Ford introduced a prototype car made out of plastic parts that were grown from nature. Now, to the disappointment of Jessie Ventura, and your local neighborhood weed activists, only a small portion of the car was made from hemp. The “hemp” car had a metal frame but the body was made out of fourteen plastic parts with approximately ten percent of the plastic deriving from hemp. Unfortunately, the formula for the plastic has been “lost.”
The most interesting aspect of the car was its ability to run on hemp oil. Maybe that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise because the diesel engine designed by Rudolph Diesel was able to run on peanut oil. By the way, Diesel mysteriously disappeared off the steam liner S.S. Dresden on his way to a meeting in London. Conspiracy theorists question the official verdict of suicide to this day. Some conspiracy theorists believe that Diesel was killed by the German government to prevent his technology from falling into the hands of the English before World War I. Others believe that he was murdered by the oil industry because of his writings about the dangers of petroleum engines. The questions surrounding Mr. Diesel’s death will probably never be answered, but problems surrounding petroleum engines still exist today.
Let’s begin with the obvious problem of oil being a fossil fuel. Now, according to British Petroleum the world is no longer facing a looming oil shortage but there are many other problems with petroleum based automobiles. According to the EPA, air pollution is greater in petroleum based automobiles than biodiesel automobiles. The EPA also claims that biodiesel is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades faster than sugar. Biodiesels being less pollutant than petroleum automobiles is only one of the problems for petroleum cars.
Another major problem for petroleum cars is that the sale of oil is a major source of funding for terrorism. According to U.S. News, it was estimated that ISIS made three million dollars per day on the sale in September of 2014. The money made by ISIS is not even a drop in the bucket compared to the money made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the sale of oil. Since, many experts believe that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest funder of terrorism and they derive most of their income from the sale of oil, one may conclude the use of petroleum is a major funding source of terrorism.
Now, I am going to go back to my original question. Did Henry Ford make a car out of hemp? Well, the answer to that question is basically no. With the formula lost to “time” the most important contribution of the hemp car may be the use of hemp oil. Since the sale of oil is a major source of funding for terrorism and biodiesel is much cleaner than petroleum, America should seriously consider weaning itself off of the use of gasoline. Henry Ford may have not made a car out of hemp but we should take his lead and seriously look at investing more into technologies that diverts America away from the use of oil and towards agriculturally based biodiesels.